Have you ever had the experience of spending a ton of time on a meal only to have it not turn out well? Last night we had friends over for dinner. I spent the WHOLE day cooking and preparing. I began my day by writing out the menu and making my grocery list. I then went shopping for the perfect veal shanks, and freshest vegetables. I worked out the schedule of timing when I needed to have the meat in the oven, the potatoes boiling and the salad made. I set the most beautiful table using my fine china, mom’s silver and crystal goblets for the wine we’d purchased the night before. It was going to be the perfect meal! [more…]
Everything was going along as planned. Everyone loved the clam’s casino and the asparagus salad. When I served the Osso Buco over mashed potatoes it looked and smelled wonderful. As I took my first bite of meat, my heart sank. It was tough! How could this be – I’d been cooking it for the past three and a half hours, and let it sit for 1/2 hour before serving so the juices could settle. Then why was the meat so touch? Our guests were new to my home and to my cooking, and at that point I didn’t know if it was just the piece of meat I was eating, or if everyone’s was tough. I decided to not say anything, and go on with our meal. They in turn were polite enough to not say anything either. As I went about preparing desert I tried to shake my disappointment, but it nagged at me. I’d spent so much time to make this meal perfect, and it really bugged me that it wasn’t.
After our guests left, I asked Tim how his veal was – he kindly said “not as tender as usual, but the flavors were great.” Okay – something went wrong – veal shank should be very tender when cooked this long – was it the meat I’d purchased or my cooking? We needed to clean up the mass of dishes in the kitchen, so I didn’t want to spend the time at that moment to dig deeper, however, this morning it was my first thought upon waking. I immediately looked up the recipe for oven cooking Osso Buco (my recipe in the book calls for cooking stove top) and there it was – the cooking temperature was supposed to be 325 degrees, and my oven temperature was 275! Ugh! How could I have done something so stupid?
I’d like to think that for someone who cooks as much as I do, I shouldn’t make these kinds of mistakes. But I did, and now I need to forgive myself and go on. I have to admit it wasn’t easy. I almost went out and bought all the ingredients again today just so I could prove to myself I can still make a good Osso Buco, but thankfully I came to my senses and didn’t.
There were left overs though, so I put them on the stove and cooked it for a few hours on low – and guess what? The meat is fall off the bone tender. A small redemption was had!